“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman.
What makes you come alive? What moments make you feel like you are in resonance with your soul? Resonance is the “quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.” When you are in your resonance with something, or someone, you will likely feel like your whole body is a tuning fork being dinged against something, and that every cell has come out to stand at attention. You are fully present. Symptoms may include tingling, electricity, tears, loss of breath, and a profound sense of aliveness. Being in your soul’s resonance often feels like connection, awe, freedom, awareness of something greater than yourself, a recognition, and coming home. The trick is, that when this moment happens– and it does happen to everyone– to slow down and really take it in. What is here? If it points you in a particular direction, follow it.
Growing up, I would always feel a deep sense of connection and aliveness when I would watch movie trailers. Tears would suddenly spring to my eyes and I would lose my breath for a second. Sitting in that seat in anticipation of a story that might take me on some emotional and intellectual adventure, would fill me with excitement and anticipation. It felt like connection and magic. It was very similar the first time I logged into AOL and heard the bazaar sound of my Macintosh dialing and squealing onto the internet for the first time. I was 15 years old and I knew, in that moment, that the world would never be the same. Resonance is a visceral experience. I believe it is the language through which the soul directs our lives.
My resonance has led me from movie theaters to making movies, to storytelling of the mind, to random encounters that woke me up and broke me open, and to people I judged as lame who taught me about love. Whether your resonance comes alive with kids, or in yoga, or in re-enacting the Civil War, go follow it. See where it has to lead. There is something in it for you. Once you get your bell rung and feel this resonance, the next step is to follow it. Lean into it. Once you begin to move, you may experience fear, worry, doubt, or some form of mental paralysis. It is just your limbic system afraid for its own (and potentially its offspring’s) survival. Don’t let it stop you. Find tools to work through this fear that feel authentic for you: therapy, talking with someone you resonate with, meditation, long walks, spiritual practices, writing, acting it out, being in nature, etc.
Joseph Campbell’s meme before there were memes was to “Follow your bliss.” Everyone loved it, but then when the bliss just never seemed to be “blissy” enough, everyone started to hate it. Bliss, like enlightenment, became another goal to try and get to. Instead of seeking out a final and permanent state of happiness, consider following what makes you come alive. Find your soul’s resonance, and let your life unfold you. It may not look exactly like the life you planned, but at the very least, you will come fully alive.
Bristol Baughan is an Executive Producer of Emmy-winning and Oscar-Nominated films, author, and private coach. She is a TED Fellow and Founder of Inner Astronauts, a custom experience and private coaching company supporting people in coming more fully alive in service to the world. Bristol holds a B.A. in International Studies from the American University School of International Service and an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
Artwork by: James Ormiston.